Blue Microphone Spark Digital review: Stylish condensor microphone for Macs and iDevices
Blue Microphones offers several devices that work well with a Mac or iOS device. The Spark Digital is its first dual-function device. At 2.1kg, it’s also relatively portable, at least by comparison with popular stablemate the Yeti, which is a mighty 3.2kg. If its versatile connectivity allows you to leave the MacBook at home and just pack an iPad or iPhone, you’ll be able to travel relatively light. Helpfully, the Spark comes with a padded fabric sack with internal pocket to stash cables, too.
Blue Microphones doesn’t provide a dedicated app – simply select your recording app of preference – but if you’re an iPhone 5, iPad mini or iPad 4 owner, you’ll need to factor in the cost of a 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter. Once connected you can start recording straight away. You can toggle between Normal and Focus mode via a switch on the back as well as adjusting the amount of gain by depressing and holding the control button until the row of indicator LEDs turn orange. The flat front of the microphone itself means there’s a definitely side to address, but the Spark Digital still did a good job of picking up the conversation around a table.
We tried it out with both GarageBand and QuickTime. The sample voice recordings suggest a similar quality to the Yeti, which we expect to be a major alternative. We were also pleased with the timbre of the acoustic guitar strumming we tested.
As with other Blue Microphones, the build is marvellous. The microphone is cushioned in a shockmount cradle (the one part that is plastic rather than metal) so the recording shouldn’t be affected if you accidentally nudge the edge of the table causing the mic to shudder. The stand is suitably weighted, so the device won’t topple over. You can set the microphone at a jaunty angle thanks to screws either side of the retaining cradle – ideal for positioning in front of an instrument, for example. The microphone fits snugly enough that we were able to tilt it upside down and use it suspended vertical with no other means of support.
The Spark Digital is a great microphone for use with either MacBook or iOS device and is portable to boot. This convenience doesn’t come cheap, but if you need to record straight to hard disk on the move, the dual inputs and clear recordings may easily make it worthwhile.